Outdoor experiences and environmental awareness
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The purpose of this research project is to assess the connection between levels of outdoor experience and views of environmental issues among NIU students. A spatial component of this study seeks to assess whether rural or urban backgrounds influence levels of outdoor experiences and attitudes toward the environment. A combination of personal qualitative interviews and a quantitative survey were used to collect data on participants’ background, level of outdoor activity participation, and views on the environment. A statistical analysis of the survey data was conducted and results indicated that rural participants were far more likely to participate in outdoor activities than their urban counterparts. Rural participants were also more likely to indicate being concerned about environmental issues. Childhood experiences were indicated by both groups of participants to be very important in shaping their views on the environment. This work is significant to environmental educators, not-for-profit programs, and any other party concerned with environmental protection and conservation as it underscores how getting people involved with outdoor activities helps to generate a positive environmental ethic.